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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  24 Sep 2020

24 Sep 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Airborne mapping of the sub-ice platelet layer under fast ice in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica

Christian Haas1,2,3,4, Patricia J. Langhorne5, Wolfgang Rack6, Greg H. Leonard7, Gemma M. Brett6, Daniel Price6, Justin F. Beckers1,8, and Alex J. Gough5 Christian Haas et al.
  • 1Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
  • 2Department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering, York University, Toronto, Canada
  • 3Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 4Department of Environmental Physics, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
  • 5Department of Physics, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  • 6Gateway Antarctica, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • 7School of Surveying, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  • 8Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada, Edmonton, Canada

Abstract. Basal melting of ice shelves can result in the outflow of supercooled ice shelf water, which can lead to the formation of a sub-ice platelet layer (SIPL) below adjacent sea ice. McMurdo Sound, located in the southern Ross Sea, Antarctica, is well known for the occurrence of a SIPL linked to ice shelf water outflow from under the McMurdo Ice Shelf. Airborne, single frequency, frequency-domain electromagnetic induction (AEM) surveys were performed in November of 2009, 2011, 2013, 2016, and 2017 to map the thickness and spatial distribution of the landfast sea ice and underlying, porous SIPL. We developed a simple method to retrieve the thickness of the consolidated ice and SIPL from the EM inphase and quadrature components, supported by EM forward modeling, and calibrated and validated by drill-hole measurements. Linear regression of EM inphase measurements of apparent SIPL thickness and drill-hole measurements of true SIPL thickness yields a scaling factor of 0.3 to 0.4, and rms error of 0.47 m. EM forward modeling suggests that this corresponds to SIPL conductivities between 900 and 1800 mS/m, with associated SIPL solid fractions between 0.09 and 0.47. The AEM surveys showed the spatial distribution and thickness of the SIPL well, with SIPL thicknesses of up to 8 m near the ice shelf front. They indicate interannual SIPL thickness variability of up to 2 m. In addition, they reveal high-resolution spatial information about the small-scale SIPL thickness variability, and indicate the presence of persistent peaks in SIPL thickness that may be linked to the geometry of the outflow from under the ice shelf.

Christian Haas et al.

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Christian Haas et al.

Christian Haas et al.


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Latest update: 25 Oct 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We developed a method to remotely detect proxy signals of Antarctic ice shelf melt under adjacent sea ice. It is based on aircraft surveys with electromagnetic induction sounding. We found year-to-year variability of the ice shelf melt proxy in McMurdo Sound and spatial fine structure that support assumptions about the melt of the McMurdo ice shelf. With this method it will be possible to map and detect locations of intense ice shelf melt along the coast of Antarctica.
We developed a method to remotely detect proxy signals of Antarctic ice shelf melt under...